I finally have managed to get a game, this time using my new 1914 French army using the RFCM rules ‘Square Bashing’. Ian got command of the French whilst I took the Germans. The pre-game process resulted in a French attack across all sectors, which meant my Germans would be pushed hard! Ian gained some good advantages, especially one which allowed his troops to be graded as Professional for a single turn (this really hurt me!). Ian also gained 7 extra Point Affect Barrage assets, plus improved shooting on my turn 2. I was also concerned about his field artillery which outnumbered mine and was of better quality (QRF guns). My depletions were OK (better than expected), but I was rather stretched. Interestingly, Ian choose ‘Movement’ as his command focus, whilst I choose ‘Morale’; I have never seen the ‘Movement’ option used before, and now I see its strengths, it allowed Ian to make repeated co-ordinated attacks from difficult terrain (very useful).
|Start of turn 2; before the decisive French attack|
As for the game itself: My Germans were on the back-foot from the start, but this was inevitable. Ian cleverly massed his field artillery rather than spread it out, which meant my forces faced concentrated attacks and this ploy took out my valuable MG and artillery units (I lost 75% of both types in the game; unusual). Turn 2 was the decisive turn; Ian used his Professional upgrade bonus combined with his Movement command focus, and a Point Affect barrage, to take 2 of the 4 objectives. My counter-attack options were limited and were heavily hit by his Improved shooting on my turn. I never recovered from this blow and never had enough troops to mount an effective counter punch, or prevent some French troops breaking through to the green fields behind my position. The Germans did successfully hold the other 2 objectives, and my choice of the ‘Morale’ command focus helped greatly. Ian made only one significant mistake and he saw the folly of rashly charging his cavalry against a position that contained MGs. The game ended after 5 or 6 turns due to the countdown clock, and it was time to add up the points: German 80 versus French 97. This gave the French a ‘Minor Victory’, but Ian was only 2 points away from a ‘Decisive Victory’. Ian did roll poorly for 1 objective and could have easily acquired these extra points, but this is one of the strengths of Square Bashing; you never accurately know the final value of some victory conditions.
Overall the game took 3 hours to play. The rules are clear and the QRS worked well. The pre-game sequence is fun and generates a nice, variable Attack/Defence game required for this period; a balanced ‘Encounter’ type game would somehow feel wrong. The ‘Asset’ management works well, as do the different artillery barrages. The different armies each have their own ‘feel’: The Germans are well balanced; the French are slightly poorer in quality but have good field artillery; the British are excellent in terms of quality but small in numbers; and the Russians are low quality but have vast numbers. I should stress I’m only interested in the opening actions of WW1 in 1914. I have never played latter actions involving trench systems, gas, or armoured vehicles so I cannot comment on how these rules work covering such environments. For me, Square Bashing works very well when playing the Autumn 1914 clashes.
As a side note, my French army looks good on the table. Interestingly the Lancashire Games figures are significantly larger than Peter Pig; this is fine when opposing each other, but within the same army the difference would stand out. Therefore I recommend choosing one or other manufacturer, and do not try to mix the two together.